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Soldiers of the Regiment

Private Ted Walton and Private James Walton

Privates Ted Walton, number 1137 & later 240094 and James Walton, number 1091, of the 5th Battalion, King's Own.
Accession Number: KO2658/01

Private Ted Walton and Private James Walton of Calder Vale, Lancashire. Circa Aug 1914. Private James Walton was killed on the railway line near Didcot whilst with the 1st/5th King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment guarding lines of communication.
From the Oxford Journal Illustrated, Wednesday 7 Oct 1914
“The system of military patrol of the railways during the present crisis has led to a number of fatal accidents; and three victims have been claimed on the GWR line to the West of England. A few weeks ago a Territorial was killed near Uffington, [Private Albert Gordon, number 1817, of the 5th Battalion who was killed on 29th August 1914] and two met their deaths on Wednesday [30th September] evening near Steventon Station. The deceased were James Walton (22) and Ernest Halton (25) privates of E Company, 5th Battalion KORLR. The first intelligence of the fatality was a telephonic message received from Wantage Road by the Steventon signalman, about 10 p.m. to the effect that the driver of the 8 p.m. express from Paddington to Bristol had reported at Swindon having knocked someone down between Steventon Station and Causeway Crossing. After hearing this statement, Albert Fletcher searched the line, and on the Steventon side of Little Lane Crossing he found the body of a Territorial lying in the 4 ft way. The head was crushed beyond recognition, and the body was badly mutilated. Fletcher went farther along the line to find the man’s rifle and came upon another body outside the wires alongside the down line. A rifle was lying on the grass near the spot. The express which leaves Paddington at 8 p.m. passes through Steventon about 9.20. An up milk train passed about the same time, and it is surmised that the men, while walking from Steventon Station, stepped from the up line to avoid the milk train; and were caught by the down express.”
“The Inquest was held on Friday [2nd October] at the house of PC Attwood, Steventon, before Mr B Challenor, jun., Deputy Coroner. Mr W Tyrrell was foreman of the jury. Captain Wright, commanding E Company, Lancaster Regiment, attended the inquiry.
Daniel Harris, Corporal in E Company, 5th Battalion, Royal Lancaster Regiment, stated that the deceased James Walton, aged 22, a private in the company, was a native of Landskil, Calderville, Lancashire, and Ernest Halton, aged 25, belong of Stirkh Hey, in the same district. Witness was in command of the patrol along the line from Steventon to Wantage, which commenced on the 18th August. He last saw the two deceased alive previous to going on duty shortly before 7 p.m. on Wednesday [30th September], and they were both sober. For patrolling the instructions from the officer commanding were to meet all on-coming trains, and on the approach of the train to stand clear of the metals. There were no special instructions as to the part of the permanent way upon which to walk, but they walked on which side of the line they thought best. Witness produced written and printed copies of instructions, such as were handed to each patrol, and he said both men were familiar with these instructions. A copy found on one of the deceased was also produced. The witness continuing said the men went on duty at 7 p.m., starting from Steventon signal box and in the ordinary way they would have to patrol to Lockinge signal box, where they would meet the patrol from Wantage road, and then return to Steventon. The patrol was for four hours, and an hour was allowed for each journey, a few minutes’ rest being allowed at each end. Assuming that the deceased were run into near Steventon Crossing at 9.20 they would be well up to time and would not be hurried.
A GWR Inspector pointed out that the printed caution gave the men special instructions as to the way they walked along the line.
............The Coroner remarked that it was evident these unfortunate men stepped in front of the down express, which overtook them while they were avoiding the up train approaching them.
The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally killed” and added that in their opinion no on was to blame.”

Graves in the churchyard of St. John The Evangelist, Calder Vale, near Garstang, of Privates Walton and Halton both killed by accident on the railway at Steventon, Berkshire, on 30th September 1914.
Accession Number: KO2255/01

Grave of Private James Walton.
Accession Number: KO2255/02

Grave of Private Ernest Halton.
Accession Number: KO2255/03

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